Professional workshops are a fact of life for people in any industry, from doctors to librarians to games journalists (gulp). In fact, many industry conventions are centered around them, and the Game Developers Conference (GDC) is no different. Each year, the conference offers a huge variety of programs covering the many facets of the games industry so that newcomers can develop skills and veterans can sharpen existing ones. This year’s GDC, like so many others, has had to adapt to an online environment thanks to COVID-19, and they’ve had some success with livestreaming as well as making GDC 2020 videos free in their vault. But their latest attempt at digital education, The GDC Masterclass program, has raised hackles around the industry thanks to its high cost ($999 for one 8 hour virtual session) at a time when the gaming industry, like most industries, is facing cutbacks and reduced budgets thanks to the pandemic.
Multiple game industry veterans expressed their exasperation at the high costs of the workshops, with high profile developers like Zoe Quinn, Rokashi, and Tyler Glaiel all chiming in to show discomfort with the idea. Conversations also turned to questions of pay when some GDC vets mentioned that they themselves were never paid for their time at GDC, and others considered just how much money GDC stood to make off of the courses.
Describing the cost of these classes as “obscene“, Executive Director of gamedev.world (another conference for developers) Rami Ismail announced that he and producer Myriame Pilgrim would be setting up an affordable alternative to the GDC Masterclass courses: The Keycard Workshops. These courses will have a similar setup as the GDC courses, pairing about fifty students with an industry expert for a four to six hour class, but would only cost between $50 and $100. Donations to the project will help organize and cover tickets for marginalized developers.
The backlash has already given Ismail’s new project an upswell of support, as vets like composer Jon Everist, IndieCade director Tiffany Otto, and artist Pedro Medeiros were already offering their services as potential speakers.
The Fandomentals has reached out to GDC for comment but as of this writing they have not responded. Since this is developing story, we’ll be updating this article as needed.
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Image via GDC